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Convicted Occupier of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Running for Congress in Arizona

He will face an already-crowded field of competitors in the special election – at least twelve other candidates have declared their intent to run. As a felon, Ritzheimer will not be able to vote in the Arizona election.

One of the anti-government militants who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 is running for Congress in Arizona.

Jon Ritzheimer, 34, was sentenced last month to 13 months in federal prison for his leadership role in the armed takeover of the eastern Oregon bird sanctuary. (During the occupation, Ritzheimer achieved special notoriety for his YouTube video telling his family, "I want to die a free man" and "Daddy swore an oath.")

At the wildlife refuge, Ritzheimer was tasked with heading up an infantry unit for the "constitutional defense forces" and a rapid response team.

This week, he filed paperwork to run in the special election to replace U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona), who resigned following revelations he asked staffers to be surrogate mothers for his children. Ritzheimer lives near Phoenix, Ariz.

Ritzheimer has also become known for his anti-Islam sentiments. He planned a protest at a Phoenix mosque in May 2015. He sold T-shirts printed with obscene attacks on the religion. The FBI had been tracking Ritzheimer before he arrived at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

He had at one point identified as a member of the Oath Keepers, a controversial militia-like group that often volunteers to patrol conservative and alt-right events. He later denounced the group in a six-minute rant on YouTube that he has since deleted.

He will face an already-crowded field of competitors in the special election; at least twelve other candidates have declared their intent to run. As a felon, Ritzheimer will not be able to vote in the Arizona election.